I AM is a peacebuilding exhibition that premiered in Amman, Jordan under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah involving 31 of the Middle East’s premier contemporary women artists that promotes and celebrates the many accomplishments of Middle Eastern women in shaping our world into a peaceful and harmonious one.
I AM celebrates the rich, diverse and crucial contributions that women from the Middle East make to the enduring global quest for harmony and peace. In this way, the exhibition aims to challenge existing stereotypes and misconceptions about Middle Eastern women by showing how they dynamically and very significantly contribute to the fabric of local and global culture. I AM will showcase the insights and experiences of Middle Eastern women as they confront issues of culture, religion and social reality in a rapidly changing world both in the Middle East and West. This exhibition is an acknowledgement of how they continue to creatively evolve new narratives that uphold their rich heritage while embracing a future full of challenges.
By the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler
Reconciliation as the heart and overall direction of God’s mission in the world was addressed from ethnic, interfaith, racial and inter-Anglican perspectives at the annual global mission conference, “Reconciliation: God’s Mission – and Ours,” sponsored recently by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) at Camp McDowell in the Diocese of Alabama.
The church needs to “recover reconciliation as the paradigm for Christian mission,” said keynoter Mark MacDonald, the national indigenous bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, where he has guided reconciliation processes between First Nations and Canadian churches and society in the wake of abuses suffered by indigenous children in residential schools.
“Reconciliation calls us to new life – it’s the restoration of moral order that invites transformation and a new order of life,” he said as he reflected on Jesus’ ministry and the petition for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer. He stressed that reconciliation has three dimensions – vertical with God, horizontal with other people, and circular with the cosmos, which includes planet earth. Horizontal and circular reconciliation are possible only through God’s vertical initiative with us in Christ.
“Mission as hospitality is a Christendom conversation about trying to get people into church,” MacDonald said in challenging one current view of mission. He pointed out that, in contrast, when Jesus sent out seventy followers, he told them to depend on the hospitality of those they visited. This analysis resonated with the 75 conference attenders, who had experienced the hospitality of mission companions in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
MacDonald also challenged a common assumption that reconciliation begins with an oppressor’s repentance and proceeds through the victim’s forgiveness, for often, he said, the sequence is the opposite: “Reconciliation begins when victims are inspired to reclaim their humanity and then move toward forgiveness, which invites the oppressor into a new relationship. Then begins the repair of the oppressor’s humanity, for there can be no participation in a colonial system without damage to the soul and to one’s humanity.”
“Communities can become incubators of reconciliation,” MacDonald said, referring both to missionaries in other societies and to the church in North America. Incubating reconciliation includes accompanying the suffering, offering hospitality for sufferers, being places of truth-telling, and facilitating the transformation that occurs as victims and oppressors reclaim their humanity.
“What does being a guest look like?” asked Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation at the Episcopal Church Center. “Seeing people as victims is part of how we’ve done mission, whereas people have their own agency, and it’s important for them to move from victimhood to survivor-hood.” Kim critiqued what she called the White Savior Complex, in which whites both acknowledge their role in colonization and imagine that they are central agents of decolonization around the world, denying the power of indigenous peoples to catalyze their own liberation.
“Seeing people as victims is part of how we’ve done mission, whereas people have their own agency, and it’s important for them to move from victimhood to survivor-hood.”
Kim used images and anecdotes from popular culture to highlight what she called the spiritual narcissism that is sometimes expressed when people from the United States encounter racial and cultural difference in ministering elsewhere in the world.
One example was a fictional news story in the satirical publication, The Onion, accompanied by a picture of a young white woman smiling with two black children. The headline, “6-day Visit to Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile,” illustrated the danger of missionaries focusing on what mission does for themselves while minimizing injustice in the world.
An image of US-based high school students cheerfully painting the wall of a school building while local Mexican youth glumly look on prompted Kim to note “the dark side of gratitude.” When people say, “Going on a short-term mission trip made me so grateful for what I have,” the underlying attitude may be that they’re grateful they are not “the other” and that they want to keep what they have.
Emphasizing opportunities for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, Paul-Gordon Chandler urged conferees to wage peace with Muslims, build on commonalities between the two religions, recognize that Christianity, like Islam, is Middle Eastern in origin, build bridges creatively, and undertake relationships with Muslims as a pilgrimage.
With long experience in the Muslim world, including pastorates in Tunis and Cairo, Chandler, an Episcopal Church missionary, is the founding director of Caravan, a non-profit organization that builds peace through traveling inter-religious art exhibits that are hosted in such venues as the National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman, Jordan; St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Riverside Church in New York City; and American University in Washington, D.C. Its current exhibition, “I Am,” features the art of Middle Eastern women of several religions.
Noting that the crescent symbol of Islam highlights only a small part of the moon, Chandler said the crescent can be interpreted as what is different about Islam, whereas the remaining dark side of the moon can be seen as what Muslims and Christians hold in common. “Build relationships on the dark side of the moon,” he said. “Read the Quran to find out what we share rather than what we don’t share.”
Chandler pointed out that Muslims see Jesus as the messiah who will come again and also believe in the virgin birth. He said that Muslim prostrations derive from Syrian Orthodoxy, Ramadan derives from Lent, the Hajj derives from Christian pilgrimages, and the five daily times of prayer derive from Benedictine discipline. These and other shared elements provide a basis for reconciling relationship, he suggested.
“All mission is local mission, but it needs the partnership of others, and all global mission is expressed locally,” said Phil Groves of the Church of England as he led two workshops on the role of the Zulu practice of indaba in fostering reconciliation in current tensions among Anglicans, especially about human sexuality. Intensifying the adoption of indaba as a mode of interaction at the the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Groves for ten years directed Continuing Indaba, an initiative to bring dioceses from different parts of the world together for mutual understanding and mission discernment.
“All mission is local mission, but it needs the partnership of others, and all global mission is expressed locally.”
“The Anglican crisis was caused by the donor-recipient model of relationship,” Groves said. Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, the mission watchword adopted by the 1963 Anglican Congress held in Toronto, and Partnership in Mission, the model adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1973, sought to overcome the donor-recipient model but were not implemented completely enough, he suggested.
In addition to the plenary speakers and their seminars, the May 24-26 conference at Camp McDowell featured workshops on companion diocese relationships, the Global Partnerships Office at the Episcopal Church Center, asset-based community development, healthy short-term mission, and young adult work, all of them keyed to the theme of reconciliation.
Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Diocese of Iowa led a workshop on diocesan companionship with his counterpart from the Diocese of Swaziland, Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya, the first African woman bishop. Environmental reconciliation was addressed in workshops by the staff of Camp McDowell, a large conference center that raises much of its own food and supplies much of its own power through solar panels.
In addition to Episcopal Church liturgies, conference worship featured liturgies from the Church of North India, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of Pakistan, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Bishop MacDonald presided at the closing Eucharist, at which Bishop John McKee Sloan of Alabama preached.
Founded in 1994, GEMN is a network of dioceses, congregations, seminaries, individuals and organizations committed to energizing global mission in the Episcopal Church. In addition to the annual conferences, GEMN runs a formation program for mission activists and offers consultation services. The 2018 Global Mission Conference, open to all, will be hosted by the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, April 11-13.
Priest-in-Partnership at St. Matthew’s Church, Enosburg Falls, the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, is a mission theologian, former missionary in Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and the Diocese of Vermont’s representative to the Global Episcopal Mission Network.
This past November I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Partnership for World Mission Conference which was held at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, England. The theme of the conference was “Going the Extra Mile: Mission in a Moving World”.
Worship and Bible Study were a part of our daily routine. There were ten of us in attendance from The Episcopal Church.
Among the speakers were The Rev. Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, a Senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens who told of the response to the refuge crisis in his country and the needs of the thousands entering Greece. His comments about the ministries taking place, in a country which has its’ own economic problems, was inspiring and heartwarming. Other speakers raised the issues of the importance of relationships, welcoming the stranger through hospitality and the importance of preserving human dignity.
The workshops included these very timely topics: cross-cultural awareness presented by United Society Partners in the Gospel, who work predominantly with Anglicans, but, for over 300 years have worked with churches in their own communities. Their efforts are focused on the development of skills and working for change within the communities, not giving handouts. Other topics were how to engage effectively with refugees and asylum seekers, organizing international visits and using social media. One evening was a theater production which focused on asylum monologues.
My takeaways from this conference consisted of the importance of continuing to develop relationships within the areas of mission including companion diocese links, whether on a diocesan or parish level. The influx of refugees is a major problem throughout the world. We need to be cognizant that people are leaving their own countries for a myriad of reasons, including economics or the political strife within their particular areas. We need to understand the way this affects our own communities and how we need to prepare to serve those who seek asylum. We need to aid in preserving the dignity of each human being. In the Book of Genesis we read about the migration through the discussion of Abraham. And, the Holy Family fled to Egypt from Bethlehem due to Herod’s order to kill little children; they were what we now describe as refugees. These are not new issues but remain very pressing particularly in our world today.
One of the books I read prior to attending the conference was World-Shaped Mission by Janice Price. I recommend this book to those of you who are involved or interested in mission. Even though the book is focused on the work of the Church of England’s world mission, I think you will find it an excellent resource. I am excited that Janice Price is continuing to do research
on companion diocese links and I am looking forward to reading her published study.
This was adapted from an article appearing in FOURTH WATCH — Newsletter of The Province of Sewanee — Province IV of The Episcopal Church Vol. 17 No. 1 Spring 2017.
“BUILDING BRIDGES OF RECONCILIATION”
AFRECS Annual Conference
West Des Moines, Iowa
October 21-23, 2016
“We need constructive support from our Sudanese brothers and
sisters outside the country as we seek to
restore peace and rebuild trust in South Sudan.”
— Rev. Peter Gai, Chairman, South Sudan Council of Churches
This conference will bring together Sudanese from the
Diaspora and from South Sudan with American friends of South
Sudan and Sudan to work for peace and reconciliation in the
world’s youngest nation.
We will ask ourselves:
- Where are the opportunities to support the Diaspora in
the USA in its
efforts for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan?
- How can the friendship of Americans contribute to
peacemaking in South Sudan and Sudan?
You can expect:
- Inspiring stories of how partnerships of South Sudanese
and Americans, even during these last thirty months of
conflict, are working together for positive outcomes
- News of South Sudan from African guests
- Opportunities to meet and work for peace with friends
dedicated to building a stable nation in South Sudan
- Workshops led by experts with experience in mediation
and peace building
- Learn what the Commission for National Healing, Peace
and Reconciliation and the Justice, Peace and
Reconciliation Commission are doing to train and enable
peace mobilizers in South Sudan
- Hear from Sudanese leaders about their challenges,
learnings and successes as the work to build reconciling
congregations in the American Diaspora
- Learn ways the US government is seeking to build peace,
and what the church is doing to speak for peace to
- Bishop Samuel Enosa Peni: Diocese of Nzara, South Sudan
and Chairperson of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation
Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and
- Bishop Joseph Garang Atem: Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
- His Excellency Pa’gan Amum Okiec: former Secretary
General of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, signer
of the Transitional Peace Agreement, August 2015
- Dr. James A. Leach: US Representative, Iowa 1st
Congressional District, 1997-2007; retired Chairman,
National Endowment for the Humanities
- Dr. Dane F. Smith: former Senior Advisor in the Office
of the US Special Envoy for Darfur, Deputy Chief of
Mission in Sudan, and Ambassador to Guinea and Senegal
- Mother Harriet Baka Nathan, Provincial Mother’s Union
Coordinator, South Sudan
- The Rev. Phil Groves, Continuing Indaba Project,
Secretariat of the Anglican Communion, London
Conference begins Friday at noon and closes with
Eucharist at 10:15 on Sunday.
Cost: $100 registration fee covers full
attendance. Meals are included (Friday lunch and
dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch and banquet; Sunday
Diaspora attendees, seminarians, and students are automatically
granted full scholarship. Please register and identify yourself as
scholarship-eligible to help us plan the meals. You may make a
free-will donation at your discretion. Any surplus
funds at the end of the conference will go to the work of
the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South
Hotel: West Des Moines Mariott, 1250 Jordan
Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
Telephone: 515-267-1500, Conference Rate: $109 (plus tax)
Click here to book your room at the group rate.
IMPORTANT: To get the special rate, which applies to
the nights of October 20, 21 and 22, you must book NO LATER
THAN Monday, October 3. Please book online or by
phone directly to the hotel. This rate will not be
available on travel websites.
Fly to Des Moines
International Airport (DSM). For best fares you are urged to
book ar transportation by August 31. If you fly to DSM and
stay at the Marriott Hotel the hotel will provide
complimentary transportation to and from the airport. For best service
call the hotel ahead of time and give them your flight
To register online:
Online registration is a two-step process.
Step 1: Please Enter Your
Step 2: Please make your
payment online via PayPal
The conference registration fee is $100 per person.
An automatic scholarship for conference fees is available to
students and members of the Diaspora.
To register by mail:
Click here for a printable registration form,
and mail it and your check to:
PO Box 12026
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
For program information, contact AFRECS at email@example.com
For logistics information, contact AFRECSconference2016@mediacombb.net
Go! A Celebration of Global Mission
Over the past three years, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, collectively, has re-energized global mission with unprecedented time and resources. With a tithe of the funds raised in its Together Now fundraisingcampaign, the diocese has awarded more than 55 grants and matching grants, involving 63 congregations, in excess of $845,000. This has sparked new interest in mission, networks and partnerships creating new and deeper infrastructure to support ongoing global mission, with more and more churches involved at every level.
On Saturday, April 9, 2016, the Diocese of Massachusetts will gather for the 2016 Global Mission Summit. “Our Global Mission Journey: Sharing our Present, Imagining our Future” highlights the lessons learned and the opportunities that await us in our journey toward reconciliation, justice, and the kingdom of God. Keynote by the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler. Special guest presentations from representatives of Tatua Kenya (Kenya), Foundation Cristosal (El Salvador), El Hogar (Honduras), 2Seeds Network (Tanzania), Reach for Rwanda (Rwanda) and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates.
The Summit has a dual purpose. First, we want to focus on what we’ve learned about this new form of mission. Second, we want to inspire participants with ideas and opportunities to take their mission relationships to the next level. The Summit will feature six areas of particular interest:
- The Evolution of Mission: How has mission changed since the days of “converting the heathens?” What are the roles of charity, project trips, development, and accompaniment?
- Engaging Young People: What are some of the elements of successful youth engagement? What are the possibilities?
- Involving the Congregation: How do we excite people and make our mission partnership a ministry that involves the whole congregation?
- Maintaining Relationships: How do we keep our mission relationship vibrant? What are some of the challenges and how do we get through them?
- Friends and Money: The person holding the wallet usually controls the relationship. How do we share our abundance and yet maintain an authentic relationship?
- Learning from Challenges: Challenges are inevitable in relationships, and we all make mistakes. What can we learn through this process to make our relationships even richer?
The day involves workshops, speakers, music, worship and networking opportunities. Lunch is included. Click here for a COMPLETE WORKSHOP LISTING.
Registration closes April 4, 2016
Responding to the decision concerning the Episcopal Church announced by the Anglican Primates Meeting on January 14, the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) Board renews GEMN’s call for Episcopalians to engage in global mission by sending and receiving pilgrims, missionaries, volunteers and learners between the Episcopal Church and the whole world, with emphasis on the Anglican Communion. In the midst of a situation that is painful for all concerned, especially because of potential impacts on treasured relationships throughout the communion, we choose to act in faith, hope and love.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said at the Primates Meeting, “… the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.”
Episcopalians, young and old and from all walks of life, encounter those “outstretched arms of Jesus” in new and empowering ways when we engage in international mission. Such companionship is transformational. GEMN will continue, with renewed energy, to invite and equip Episcopalians for service and learning with our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Communion.
GEMN welcomes the primates’ affirmation of evangelism, in which they said, “We commit ourselves through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.” We likewise welcome the primates’ attention to climate change, religiously motivated violence, poverty and war as highlighted in their communiqué. All these concerns are vital to God’s mission in the world.
We invite all individuals, parishes, dioceses, and mission-minded organizations to join us in advancing God’s global mission. In particular, we invite people to come, or send others, to the GEMN Global Mission Conference in Ponce, Puerto Rico, May 18-20, 2016. Details are at www.gemn.org. Our Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Migration Ministries and other leaders will address the theme of “God’s Mission With a World in Continuous Motion”. Mainlanders will join with Episcopalians from Latin America and Episcopal missionaries from around the world.